In the past couple of years, it has become popular for politicians to tell people that Social Security benefits, specifically the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, are entitlements programs for people that are too lazy to work. They also like to say that there is rampant fraud committed by claimants who are not really disabled. While there are obviously some instances of fraud, just like there are with any other program of any kind, this statement and the allegations that SSDI is an entitlement program could not be farther from the truth.
This issue and these commonly held misconceptions have been discussed and dispelled in a recent opinion letter published in the New Jersey Herald. As discussed in the letter, whatever your opinion of welfare may be, SSDI is not welfare. The reason for this is because anyone who works pays taxes into a specific fund that pays for disability programs run by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must not only establish that you are disabled, but also that you have earned enough quarterly credits to qualify for benefits.
As our Boston SSDI benefits attorneys can explain during your initial consultation, every fiscal quarter (three months) that you work, you earn a credit. You have to have earned enough credits to qualify for benefits by the time you become disabled in order to qualify for benefits. If you have earned enough credits, and can prove you are disabled, you will be entitled to benefits. The way the agency puts this is that you have sufficiently “paid into the system.”
The reason they use the phrase “paid into the system” is because, much like with a private insurance policy, you have to a pay a premium. If you ever become disabled, you can collect the benefits, which you are entitled to based upon paying the premium all those years. This is anything but a handout.
As for the issue of SSDI fraud, while it has happened, as discussed in the published letter, it is very difficult to get approved for benefits. A claimant must submit detailed medical records and opinion letters from doctors and likely have an expert or multiple experts testify at a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) who actually works for the SSA. In other words, the system is set up in a way that favors a denial of benefits. As we have seen over the years, claimants must go above and beyond what should be necessary to prove a disability, so it is actually very difficult for claimants to defraud the system. For this reason, there are a very small number of fraud cases as compared to valid claims, but these few fraudulent claims get the attention of some politicians, and that makes them a media issue.
However, the reality is that these politicians want to defund the program at the expense of more that 11 million disabled Americans who depend on these benefits to make ends meet and take care of there families. The vast majority of these Americans with disabilities would much rather be healthy and working than on SSDI benefits.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Setting record straight on Social Security Disability, Jan. 15, 2017, Maryjean Ellis, New Jersey Herald
More Blog Entries:
Worker Taxed Thousands for Social Security Disability Benefits He Never Received, June 21, 2016, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog